Deadly parvo strikes pets
GYMPIE vets yesterday warned of an outbreak of the deadly canine parvovirus, with half the annual number of cases presenting to one Gympie clinic in the past fortnight.
Parvo is a painful and highly infectious disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system of dogs.
Veterinarians Jo Stumm and Cathy Millgate said Gympie Vet Services had treated six cases of parvo in the past two weeks - they usually hospitalised between 12 and 20 cases a year.
Another 25 local dogs believed to have been exposed to the virus also had to be vaccinated.
"This is a highly contagious and resistant virus," Dr Millgate said. "It doesn't die."
In the right conditions, parvo could remain in the environment for up to a year after an infected dog had been there.
Faeces and the vomit of infected dogs were the main source and it was easily transmitted via the hair or feet of dogs and on shoes, clothes and other objects.
Dogs of any age could be infected but parvo was most common in dogs less than a year old - and puppies under five months were the most difficult to treat.
"Make sure your bitch is up to date," Dr Millgate said.
"Puppies can get some cover through their mother's milk and we can't give them their first vaccination until they are at least six weeks old."
While an average 70% of dogs presenting to Gympie Vet Services were saved with treatment, that treatment could be lengthy, sometimes unsuccessful and cost from $400 to $2000.
Dr Stumm said preventing the disease and avoiding that expense was simple - "vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate".
"This is the most important thing to vaccinate against," she said.
"Even those people who think their dogs never leave home aren't necessarily safe," Dr Millgate said.
Feral dogs and even random human visitors could be carrying the virus. "It's a really horrible way to die."
Symptoms of parvovirus come on quickly and include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Foul smelling, bloody diarrhoea
- Severe dehydration